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Who needs to beat the heat in February? Your neighborhood’s cats, that’s who!

The cat population in the U.S. is greater than the dog population, and it appears to be growing more rapidly in recent years. Cats’ reproductive cycles are more frequent than dogs’, especially in warmer regions. As a result, cats can have multiple “kitten seasons,” or times when more kittens are born than usual, each year.

In February, PetSmart Charities sponsored “Beat the Heat,” a promotion to reduce the number of homeless cats born during this spring’s kitten seasons

Kitten Season happens from March to November.  This is the warmer time of year when females are in heat and find males to reproduce with.  There are some common misconceptions that lead to accidental litters during this season

  1. My unaltered female is an indoor cat.  I don’t have to worry about her mating. Don’t assume that your unaltered female will behave like a perfect lady when spring comes.  If you haven’t experienced a heat cycle yet, prepare yourself for some intense meowing.  This annoyance is the least of your worries this time of year.  This is the season when female cats tend to break out of the house, wander, become lost and mate with an unaltered male in the neighborhood.  Then, 2 months later you’re the one stuck with a litter of adorable kittens that you can’t find homes for.  Shelters battle this problem year after year.  The increase in kittens surrendered to shelters and animal control facilities during this time of year is exponentially larger than the number of people looking to adopt kittens.
  2. My cat is just a kitten!  She’s not old enough to produce a litter. Maybe you’re right, but make sure you have the facts first.  This is not something you want to leave up to chance.  A cat can go into heat and mate as early as 4 months old.  Many people think it is appropriate to wait until the cat is 6 months old or after she has had her first heat cycle.  This is not the case at all.  It is much easier to have this surgery as soon as the kitten is over 2lbs.  The kitten has a much quicker recovery time this way.  By waiting until the first heat cycle, you are risking your cat having an unintended litter.
  3. I think it is better for my cat to wait until after her first heat cycle to have her spayed. It is actually much healthier to do just the opposite!  Current research shows that spaying before the first heat cycle can prevent the development of mammary gland tumors.  Also, younger cats tend to wake up from anesthesia and recover from surgery much quicker than older cats.
  4. I want my cat to have a litter of kittens before I have her spayed. No matter your reasoning is for this, it is of utmost importance to have your cat spayed before she produces any offspring.  Did you know that one unaltered female cat and her offspring can produce up to 420,000 cats in a seven-year period?  It’s true!  By being a responsible pet owner and having your female cat spayed, you can greatly decrease the number of homeless pets.  It is estimated that 5 to 8 million animals are euthanized in shelters and animal control facilities each year in the U.S. alone.  The only humane way to help these animals is by greatly reducing their reproduction.  Spaying your female cat is a wonderful way to show your love for these homeless animals and the struggle they call a life.